Activity 6: College Readiness

Activity Guide

The distinction between college eligibility and college readiness is important. It is imperative for schools to understand the components and layers of readiness (the more complex of the two), in order to assure that all of those components are part of the school’s culture. This article provides one blueprint against which a school can measure the completeness and quality of its plan to assure a high level of readiness for all students as well as eligibility for postsecondary work.

Reading: “Eligible and Ready for College,” Principal Leadership, December 2010, pp. 18–22.

Materials

After participants have read the article, debrief the reading in two parts:

  1. Group staff members into cross-content teams of 4–6 members. Assign each team to one of the four dimensions of readiness discussed in the article. Members of each team should review their assigned dimension area and discuss and answer the questions posed in the group strategies below. Use chart paper or a recorder to list specific school programs or actions as supporting evidence. Brainstorm and record additional activities or strategies to improve each dimension at your school.
    • Group I: Key cognitive strategies: Are students provided multiple opportunities in all classes to apply content knowledge, evaluate information for credibility and relevance, and communicate their learning effectively? Where those opportunities are minimal, what can be done to remediate?
    • Group II: Key content knowledge: Are students being prepared in all classes to master a strong set of foundational skills and concepts in the core disciplines? Do we routinely assess the level at which foundational skills and concepts are being taught?
    • Group III: Academic behaviors: How are we ensuring that students are being taught the “self-management” skills listed in the article? Are classroom teachers and counselors including consistent opportunities for students to learn and use these skills in multiple contexts?
    • Group IV: College knowledge: How are we ensuring that all students know how college is different from high school and how to access that information? Are we being intentional in assuring that this information is explicitly available to all students, particularly those who are only likely to be exposed to it in school?

    Debrief the activity by having each group share evidence and improvements. At the close of the discussion, create a profile of the school that addresses each of the four major components.

  2. Armed with the basic knowledge amassed about where your school stands in preparing students in the four components, ask teams to turn their attention to developing a plan to increase the level of student readiness. This activity is valuable regardless of school type or level. Using the sample chart provided, ask teams to complete the first column by categorizing all the practices, programs, and protocols you already have in place for the seven readiness principles. Use the second column to identify partially or marginally implemented practices. In the third column identify areas of deficiency that need attention. Some sample entries have been provided for you.

Principle I: Create and maintain a college-going culture in the school.

Things we do consistently and well in support of the principle Things we do, but not consistently or at high levels Important components that are missing from our program
Provide semester career fairs with community, business and university representatives.

Principle II: Create a core academic program that is aligned with and leads to college readiness.

Things we do consistently and well in support of the principle Things we do, but not consistently or at high levels Important components that are missing from our program
Work with our grade-level or departmental team to reinforce core content across disciplines.

Principle III: Teach key self-management skills and expect students to use them.

Things we do consistently and well in support of the principle Things we do, but not consistently or at high levels Important components that are missing from our program
Identify the key self-management and communication skills used in our classrooms.

Principle IV: Make college real by preparing students with the “vision” of college, the complexity of applying to college and making the transition successfully.

Things we do consistently and well in support of the principle Things we do, but not consistently or at high levels Important components that are missing from our program
Introduce the BigFuture BigFuture.org planning website to students at all grade levels.

Principle V: Create assignments and grading policies in high school that more closely approximate college expectations. Scaffold these assignments where age appropriate.

Things we do consistently and well in support of the principle Things we do, but not consistently or at high levels Important components that are missing from our program

Principle VI: Make the senior year meaningful and challenging.

Things we do consistently and well in support of the principle Things we do, but not consistently or at high levels Important components that are missing from our program
Provide a cross-content senior project that requires presentation and defense.

Principle VII: Build partnerships with and connections to postsecondary programs and institutions.

Things we do consistently and well in support of the principle Things we do, but not consistently or at high levels Important components that are missing from our program
Provide opportunities for underclass students to visit a college campus or a business.
Provide an opportunity for seniors to take dual enrollment courses at a community college.